What do you miss most about the University of Leeds?
I miss the people, the place, and the sense of knowing a very exciting future lays ahead of you. I had a wonderful relationship with the many staff at the School of Law and I’m always thrilled every time I visit to see such memorable faces.
Being Vice President and then President of Leeds University Law Society gave me my first real commercial lessons. I look back with such fondness on the events that we managed to create. I would love to re-live those moments, even for just a day.
Setting up the annual students v staff cricket match with Professor Ian Cram is something I am very proud of. Each year the teams now play for the Cram/McAteer trophy and I will never hear the end of Professor Roger Halson completing a diving catch to get me out in the very first one in 2007.
Why did you choose to study Law?
I always knew from my Dad, Craig McAteer, that law would give a fantastic grounding for any career that I wished to progress in. I was incredibly fortunate to be accepted into Leeds. In my business life I have used my law background on many occasions when dealing with contracts, negotiations and it has helped me tremendously.
Tell us about your career path since finishing at the School of Law?
I cannot believe it has been nearly 8 years since I graduated! Like many others I wanted to be a lawyer and although I managed to secure myself a training contract I ended up as a production editor for Max Power magazine at the ripe old age of 21! It was certainly very different to a career as a lawyer.
Unfortunately the magazine ended up folding and it was down to the fact they weren’t willing to get out of their old business model and move with the times. It’s actually one of my biggest regrets that I was unable to lead the regeneration of the magazine for the social/digital generation.
With that said, my background from doing a law degree had given me the skills to judge different circumstances and to communicate with people effectively no matter their background or circumstance. It’s what people don’t necessarily realise from studying is the skillsets you gain as well as the physical grades that you obtain.
After leaving the magazine I decided that law was the path for me, or at least I thought it was! Before starting an LPC I had come up with some crazy business ideas with my partner in crime, Nick Steiert, who was Leeds Law Society social secretary when I was president. These ideas would end up becoming what is now known as Invasion and AmeriCamp, two of our international events brands. We now have around 20,000 people go through our brands each year and it is growing all the time. It made me realise that anything is possible if you give everything you have and are not afraid of hitting the first hurdle. It was from our experiences at the School of Law and Leeds Law Society that made us create the brands. If it wasn’t for being at Leeds School of Law there would be no Invasion nor AmeriCamp.
Give us a brief insight into your role?
I have a very strange role as I have to wear a number of different hats depending on what brand I am working with. It is fair to say that I live out of a suitcase the vast majority of the time. It also means that I only get about four hours sleep a night as I have to work on a number of different time zones. I try and put myself in the shoes of every customer and ensure that they are treated as to exactly how I would want to be treated. I am very fortunate to have some amazing work colleagues who help make my dreams become a reality. The fact that our offices in Manchester have a ping pong table, foosball table and a basketball net it’s fair to say my role isn’t one of a typical company director! I am always creating new ideas and brands, never sitting on my laurels as we constantly try to evolve. I have a few business ideas that we are launching this year, one of which I am incredibly excited about, watch this space!
What are you most looking forward to in your future career?
The future of the brands is unbelievably exciting. I have no idea where it is all going, but considering it all started in January 2010 and didn’t really get going until 2012 shows that what we have is rather special. I have unfinished business in the media and I hope to one day rekindle what I truly believe are opportunities out there. I am always trying to push myself further, keep proving people wrong and will always hold out for an ambition to host Top Gear! There is a wonderful life to be had out there, but you have to work hard to earn it.